Archive | Extracurriculars

Image by Jirka Matousek, Flickr

Image by Jirka Matousek, Flickr

Going to college can be an exciting time in life. All the new interactions and knowledge you will gain as you jumpstart your future can make for quite the experience. The downside is that you get more stress and less time in the day to relax. You also may have a passion that is left to the wayside with all your studies. This shouldn’t get you down; instead it should be seen as an opportunity to come up with an answer to all these problems: a college club.

Colleges have all the resources and people available to you to network and establish a club – just find an entertaining, engaging subject that will draw a group of fellow students and faculty. If there aren’t any established clubs at your college, it’s time to start one ASAP. It will take a bit of work, but the rewards are well worth it. Here are some examples of clubs you can start or get inspiration from:

Art Club
Clubs based around the arts are excellent for getting people to connect and express themselves. Not to mention some fantastic work can be produced and contributed to the school. For instance, painters can come together and create a mural for an empty wall, like they did here in Piedmont, VA. When creativity is on your side, the options are endless, and a college Art Club will bring out the best in the school and its students.

Photography Club
Like Art Club, Photography Club gives students a chance to express themselves through an artistic medium, in this case, pictures. While studying all the intricacies of shooting and developing photos, Photography Club would make itself beneficial to the school that hosts it. For example, offer to document and save old hardcopy photos by scanning and saving them digitally to help preserve your school’s history.

Film Club
Most people enjoy movies, but it takes a special kind of person to immerse themselves into a great film. Enter the cinephile – a person who loves to watch, critique and praise cinema. Of course, Film Club should be more than just an excuse for cinephiles to eat snacks while watching new releases. Set up a committee that organizes movie nights for the whole college. Find out which movies critics are going on about by reading reviews, then plan to show it. Make announcements for the movie night, provide refreshments, and write a review of the night and movie on a Movie Club blog or social media page.

Debate Club
Being able to craft arguments is an especially useful skill, especially in fields of academia that require communication or logic. If you’re a political scientist, philosopher, or just like a thoughtful exchange, start up a Debate Club in your school. Not only would it be engaging, but it looks good on your resume; in a Debate Club you prove you can communicate, work under pressure, and think critically, all of which are beneficial in the eyes of future employers.

Writers Club
While there may be plenty of courses that will allow creative writing, school can only offer so much freedom and time to write. A Writers Club would be a good outlet for writers and poets wanting to expand their skills. Hold meetings around a particular topic for the week or month. Read classic novels and discuss them among the group, critique and share short stories, and put on poetry slams for the school. If Club members wanted to expand into journalism or content writing, they can collaborate with the offices of the college to produce a newsletter or school blog.

LAN Club
LAN is short for ‘local area network’, a term used in Information Technology, to describe a group of computers that are able to communicate and share with each other. To most IT students, a ‘LAN party’ is an event when multiple computers share network access and PC games allow players to compete or cooperate. With permission from the IT department, the right software and servers, you can organize a LAN party. The event would serve as both a tool for tech-savvy students to learn proper networking and attract students who want to unwind after school.

In Conclusion
As you can tell with each club, there are more than just personal benefits to establishing or joining a college club. A club is an opportunity to contribute to the culture of its home college, to provide something more than routine education. With the right planning and the right people in place, there is so much potential that college clubs have to offer, for your education, social life, and more.

This article was contributed by guest author Aaron Farrington.

Image by Jirka Matousek, Flickr

Image by , Flickr

With many schools beginning frosh this week, things are about to get crazy. School spirit and booze will be flying, but as a second year, I’d like to offer you froshies some carefully considered and hard-learned advice about keeping your week fun, safe and educational.

1. Be friendly!

A lot of first years I meet always tell me the same thing – I didn’t make any friends during frosh week. And frosh, like anything, is bound by this rule: you get what you give. If you give all your effort trying to talk to people in your dorm or at a party, and really work on maintaining those friendships, you’re going to meet new people and have fun. A lot of people are shy, but trust me, if you see another shy person across the room, take a chance and talk to them! Frosh is all about making the most of your new environment. Not everyone will be receptive to you, but it’s always worth a try and most people appreciate the effort. I find that everyone has the same friendly spirit during frosh, so make the most of it.

2. Try to visit all the frosh events you can

As a commuter, trying to make friends during frosh was tough, but it becomes easier if you try to attend as many events as you can. Go to the club fair and homecoming. The more events you attend, the more you learn about your school and the more people you meet. It’s so important to take this time to get to know your school and feel the pride and connection the student body has. Get out there and try new things! That being said…

3. Don’t overdo it

I know many people who go out every single night and drink way too much for seven days straight. The reality is, you’re going to make yourself sick. And being sick for the first day of class doesn’t reflect very well on you to professors. If you’ve never drank before, pace yourself and make sure that you know what you can handle. And only drink with people that you know – and I mean people that you know WELL. Getting lost in a place you don’t know is dangerous and scary, especially if you are intoxicated. And NEVER EVER feel pressured to drink. You do whatever you are comfortable with. It’s your frosh and you can make it fun doing the things that you enjoy – alcohol not necessary.

4. Ask questions

You’re going to have tons of opportunities to connect with upper years and learn more about the campus and its programs during frosh. Definitely take the time to speak up and ask questions – about anything. Ask about clubs, bars, secret study spaces or who the good profs are on campus. Upper years at frosh events love to help out and are there for a reason, so take advantage of them! You could also make a new, older friend in the process, which can help you in the long run with study tips and old notes!

5. Take an off campus trip

Getting to know your new place is one of the key things to do during frosh, but that also means getting to know where your campus is and what the nearby cities are. Get to know the public transit, where the banks, grocery stores and shopping centers are, as well as if there are any off-campus libraries nearby – they make great study spaces during exam time. Your registrar office is also a great place to contact if you have questions about the area.

Happy Frosh!

Image by VFS Digital Design, Flickr

Image by VFS Digital Design, Flickr

Becoming involved with university publications can seem intimidating and complex to high school students, even with publishing experience. This is to help students with the drive and potential to become senior editor:

Do your own research and put yourself out there. Student-run publications don’t have a big presence, and since the executive changes every year, their advertising methods change constantly. Email the publication: “How can I get involved?”

Get involved in your first year, even in a minor way. Your dreams of becoming editor of The New Yorker may not match the job description for junior copy editor at a small university publication, but you have to start somewhere. It helps if you held a position on a high school publication, such as yearbook. Senior editorial positions usually require at least several months of copy editing or related experience.

Put in the time. Go to the group meetings, launches, and events. Continual meetings can become monotonous, but those who are around the most get the most opportunities and cultivate a reputation essential to a senior position with the publication.

Many university publications have a porous creative process, meaning that students can become involved in all aspects of the publications process – writing, editing, designing, promotion, etc. Commitment is one of the biggest problems university publications deal with. One-time contributors are easy to come by, but not many students want to dedicate themselves to an ongoing role in a publication. Therefore highly involved students will usually have a hand in each aspect of the publication. A design editor might contribute a few articles, or a writer might make illustrations, for instance.

Keep your goals in sight. Student publications are meant to be platforms for opinions and originality, but can sometimes stopper with unoriginality. Continue to offer up new ideas, challenge platitudes, and keep a record of your work.

Need some writing experience? Email with your resume.

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Image via

Just a couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Career Conversations Panel: Discovering Careers in Communications, Journalism and Writing. The event was hosted by York University and featured people in the field of writing advising people on how to find jobs in said field.

The panel consisted of a journalist with experience writing for many periodicals, the director of Communications at York University, an editor for Maclean’s and FASHION magazine, a novelist with Join In Press and a former Editor in Chief for The Atkinsonian.

I found the presentation extremely useful. The panel all managed to give helpful tips on how to find a job in writing; here are a few of my favourites:

  • Be persistent when applying for jobs: apply and reapply until you get in
  • Self-publish
  • Start out as an intern: this often leads to a full-time job as good workers may be kept on board

After the seminar, there was a chance to mingle with the panelists. I took this opportunity to talk to one of the speakers about an internship with FASHION magazine. He gave me information on how to apply and gave me his business card. Though I wasn’t able to use it for the internship I applied for, I was impressed he gave me his contact details without me asking.

I would give the Career Conversations Panel a 9/10. Not only was it informative, but it was also a great way to network. I learned about new strategies to apply for jobs I had never heard of, for example, if you apply and reapply for a job, the chances of getting it are higher. The panelists were eager to discuss their claims to success and talk to the guests. Overall, I was pleased with the Career Conversations Panel.


Photo by Carmen Rodriguez NSP, Flickr

Photo by Carmen Rodriguez NSP, Flickr

This weekend marked the end of the Sochi Olympics. Athletes around the world will return to their training regiments in anticipation of the next competition. Many of these competitive athletes are young students. Athletes must start young, as it takes years of training to reach their peak level of skilled fitness. How does the average young athlete balance schoolwork with their athletics? In honour of the Canadian gold medal hockey wins, I interviewed several Varsity athletes from the University of Toronto to investigate the balance between professional athletics and schoolwork.

Two things were mentioned by all athletes interviewed: time management. If you want to invest the time to be a professional anything while remaining a full-time student, organization and planning are key. This especially applies to student athletes, as their bodies are an entirely different syllabus to manage. Training, nutrition, and rest are equal to studying for a midterm. This means micromanaging study sessions, social life, and everything in between.


Elizabeth Benn is on the Varsity Blues fastpitch team (a version of softball with a windmill pitching style), studying philosophy, English, and French. During fastpitch season she practices for 20 hours a week – not including travel time, administrative work, fundraising, and meetings. Benn has missed class for her sport, but says different practice time slots allow for leeway. She plans her weekly schedule in advance every Sunday, although,

It’s common to fall behind and have to miss out on things that ‘normal’ students get to do.

As a student athlete, she recommends taking a lighter course load and courses with reduced workloads.


David Urness, a Varsity Blues rower and Nordic skiier studying engineering, also time manages by planning his semesters far in advance. He says,

This gives me the chance to plan strategies to survive the stressful times.

In times of high pressure, Urness micromanages.

If I’m really pressed for time, I’ll schedule my days hour by hour.

Heather and Sophie

If a normal student finds themselves overwhelmed by schoolwork, they can stay up late to cram. A Varsity athlete cannot afford to lose sleep and experience drowsiness at their next practice or competition. Varsity Blues figure skater Heather McHugh, who studies political science, says,

It’s hard getting up for 6:00am on Friday mornings if you’ve been out late the night before.

Negotiating with professors is also a necessary nuisance. Sometimes a championship can coincide with a midterm, and a professor’s understanding is imperative for the student athlete to participate and achieve the necessary grades. Although most professors are accommodating – McHugh has never conflicted with a professor – some can be difficult. She says,

Last year a girl almost missed the [figure skating] championship because a professor was resisting letting her reschedule a midterm.

Sophie Ryder, a Varsity figure skater studying social sciences, says,

I have personally been lucky that all my professors have been super understanding, but I have heard stories of the Dean being involved.

Tips for Athletes, from Athletes

Sometimes students must appeal to the next level of authority to accommodate their athletics. To avoid this, Benn recommends showing professors your commitment to the class and that you are capable of maintaining your workload.

I try to do little things to show that I am still doing my work for their classes, like handing in sheets with notes from the past week’s readings; that way they’ll know that I’m still doing my work and do care about the class.

Along with other U of T athletes, Urness cites attitude as key. Overbooked student athletes must find play in their work. The support and attitude of fellow teammates is vital. As Urness says,

Attitudes are contagious: sure, Debbie Downer can ruin practice if you’re not careful, but a smile can also make it.

A team’s temperament can affect an athlete’s ability to cope on and off-field. Team spirit is essential, since, as McHugh says,

Unless you’re in residence, I find that the team is your social life.

Ryder says that despite the stress,

I personally do it because I love the sport. At the end of the day as long as you’re happy with your decisions and life, that’s all that matters.

Urness says,

I’m proud to represent the University of Toronto as a rower and a Nordic Skiier, and being a student athlete is the best decision I made after choosing to attend U of T.

The U of T Varsity Blues experiences tell us that being a student athlete takes more than one kind of discipline. Not only physical and academic, but logistical: the ability to formulate a schedule and follow through. Of course, students make mistakes. Life cannot be fully planned for. Schoolwork and sports are a balance that only passion can steady and Olympic resolve can maintain.